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Heart Screens for Teen Athletes | What parents need to know.
Heart Screens for Teen Athletes

  • The leading cause of sudden cardiac death (SCD) in teenagers is HCM (Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy—an enlarged heart).  This heart muscle disorder affects l in 500 persons of all ages; but it usually manifests itself before age 20.  
  • Athletes at all levels, from high school to professional, die each year from SCD.  It often strikes with no prior warning or symptoms in previously healthy young athletes.  
  • HCM is 100% detectable with a 10-15 minute exam which costs about $65.00.  
  • An ultrasound exam is simple, safe and requires no preparation.  High frequency sound waves photograph and examine various images and views of the heart.  
  • 15 high school athletes die each year due to heart-related problems.  (National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research)  
  • “The American Heart Association regards cardiovascular screening for athletes as an important public health issue...However, we do not currently feel that current scientific evidence supports the universal use of tests such as 12-lead EKGs (electrocardiograms) or echocardiography in the context of mass screening of children involved in athletic activities.”  (Dr. Ralph L. Sacco, President, American Heart Assn. 2010-11)  
  • EKG’s do not catch everything.  
What You Can Do
  • Ensure your child is healthy and at minimal risk for competitive sports participation by getting your child a routine Echocardiogram (heart ultrasound). 
  • Recommend that an automated external defibrillator (AED) be available at all high school sporting events and practices.  
  • Discuss with schools and doctors the possibility of providing EKG screenings for free to athletes.  Consider purchasing machines and recruiting volunteer medical professionals to help identify students with life-threatening conditions. 
Additional Resources

Heart Screens for Teens
(770) 813-8323